Artemidor of Daldis

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Artemidor of Daldis ( Greek  Ἀρτεμίδωρος ὁ Δαλδιανός Artemídoros ho Daldianós , Latin Artemidorus Daldianus , also Artemidor of Ephesus ) was an imperial dream interpreter and fortune teller from the first half of the 2nd century . Artemidor is the author of the Oneirokritika (Greek "dream interpretation").

life and work

Artemidor came from the Greek city of Ephesus in western Asia Minor, but named himself after his mother's hometown, Daldis in Lydia , in order to stand out from the numerous other dream interpreters in Ephesus. This is how modern research distinguishes him from the geographer Artemidor of Ephesus . His lifetime probably falls in the years after the death of Domitian (96 AD) until the reign of Antoninus Pius (138 to 161), who, like Hadrian , is mentioned by name in the work. The often read assumption that Artemidor died around 180, towards the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius or at the beginning of that of Commodus , on the other hand, is a mere assumption, since neither of the two emperors is named in the work. On the basis of certain figures of thought and references in his dream interpretation (e.g. the idea of pronoia and personifications of stars, winds and clouds) it is sometimes assumed that Artemidor was a stoic .

According to his own information, Artemidor undertook several educational trips through Asia Minor and to the large islands of the Aegean Sea; he visited the Greek motherland and Italy. He practiced dream interpreting and fortune telling, a common trade of his time, professionally. On his travels, Artemidor also consulted fortune tellers, who interpreted their dreams to people in markets in order to learn more about old dream faces and their fulfillments. He had a son who, like himself, became dream interpreters. Educated and familiar with classical Greek literature, Artemidor prides himself in the preface to the first book of his dream interpretation that there is no book on dream interpretation that he has not acquired and studied. On the one hand, Artemidor endeavored to base the interpretation of dreams under the influence of the empirical school on an empirical method (observation, tradition, inference by analogy), on the other hand, he states that the god Apollon himself inspired him in dreams to write his dream book. In addition to interpreting dreams , Artemidor also wrote a handbook of bird's eye views , which is completely lost.

His dream interpretation consists of five books. The first three books are dedicated to a certain Cassius Maximus (probably Maximus of Tire ). Originally the work was probably based on a collection of examples in two books. Books 1 through 3 appeared first and were intended for a wider audience. On the other hand, Artemidor supposedly wrote books 4 and 5 exclusively for his son, who was also a dream interpreter: The text confidently asserts that he should keep this part of the work to himself in order to be superior to all other dream interpreters. The fourth book is a defense of the dream interpretation against critics and also contains practical advice for the dream interpreter and discussions of theoretical problems of dream interpretation. In the fifth book, Artemidor tries to explain 95 concrete dreams and their meaning for real life. Dreams and dream symbols are interpreted as omina with favorable or unfavorable premeaning for the dreaming.

An example:

"Yourself [sc. combing in a dream] brings benefits to both men and women; for the comb is synonymous with the time overcoming all adversities. Hair braiding is only of use to women and to those men who otherwise [sc. while awake], it shows all other people involvement in their financial obligations, high loan debts, and sometimes even jail. "

- Artemidor, Interpretation of Dreams , Book II, Chapter 6.

Artemidor's work is now considered an interesting example of ancient superstition. At the same time, it is an early attempt to systematize the apparently chaotic, senseless and puzzling aspects of dreams and to develop an empirically supported technique of interpretation from this.

In addition, the dream book is a valuable historical source for the attitude towards life at that time, the social history and the world of ideas of ancient people in the high imperial era. The interest of the clientele of a Greek interpreter of dreams, as can be deduced from Artemidor's interpretations, was not a gain in self-knowledge, therapy or an existential interpretation, but only the view into the future, which was mostly determined by material concerns: poverty or wealth , Illness or health, success or failure in professional work, in competitions, in public life, marriage and blessings of children, weather and harvest, dangerous or happy journeys, etc. are the themes around which the text revolves.

Until well into the 18th century, the dream book , which was translated into Latin under Renaissance humanism , was a very popular and often cited work; it lost popularity during the Enlightenment and was largely forgotten. It was not until Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) discovered it again and cited it in his work The Interpretation of Dreams (1899/1900).

List of older authors and writings on the dream

The older dream books that Artemidor was able to fall back on and with which he dealt with have largely not come down to us and are only known as titles or in fragments by being mentioned by Artemidor himself or by quotations from other authors.

Editions and translations

16th century edition

Critical edition

  • Roger A. Pack (ed.): Artemidori Daldiani Onirocriticon libri V . Teubner, Leipzig 1963.

Reading outputs


  • Jean-Marie Flamand: Artémidore de Daldis. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume 1, CNRS, Paris 1989, ISBN 2-222-04042-6 , pp. 605-614
  • Michel Foucault : Sexuality and Truth - Concern for yourself. In: Michel Foucault: The main works. With an afterword by Axel Honneth and Martin Saar. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 3-518-42008-9 .
  • Ludger Grenzmann: Traumbuch Artemidori: On the tradition of the first translation into German by WH Ryff . Baden-Baden 1980 (= Saecula spiritalia , 2).
  • István Hahn : Dream Interpretation and Social Reality. Artemidorus Daldianus as a source of social history. Universitätsverlag Konstanz, Konstanz 1992, ISBN 3-87940-395-3 .
  • Wolfram Kurth: The dream book of Artemidoros in the light of Freud's dream theory. In: Psyche. Volume 4, 1951, pp. 488-512.
  • Elisabeth Schmitt: Lexical investigations into the Arabic translation of Artemidor's dream book. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1970.
  • Christine Walde : Ancient Dream Interpretation and Modern Dream Research. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2001, ISBN 3-538-07117-9 .
  • Christine Walde: Artemidor (Artemidoros). Oneirokritika. In: Christine Walde (Ed.): The reception of ancient literature. Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 7). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-476-02034-5 , Sp. 149–159.
  • Gregor Weber (ed.): Artemidor von Daldis and the ancient interpretation of dreams. Texts - contexts - readings (= Colloquia Augustana. Volume 33). de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-040740-2 .
  • Ernst Riess : Artemidoros 36 . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II, 1, Stuttgart 1895, column 1334 f.

Web links


  1. Artemidor: The dream book . Trans. V. K. Brackertz. dtv, Munich 1979, p. 8.
  2. The empirical school was one since the middle of the 3rd century BC. Existing Greek medical school, which emerged from the skepticism of Pyrrhon von Elis and wanted to base medicine solely on experience; see. Karl Brackertz (translator): Artemidor von Daldis: The dream book . Artemis, Zurich and Munich 1979, p. 356.
  3. Artemidor: The dream book . Trans. V. K. Brackertz. dtv, Munich 1979, p. 349ff.
  4. ^ Artemidor: Das Traumbuch , translated by K. Brackertz, Munich 1979, p. 116.